July 31, 2008
When Yasser Arafat received the Nobel Prize, should Jews worldwide have rioted, issued fatwas demanding his murder and posted rewards for his execution? After all, Arafat was a self-acknowledged terrorist, complicit in the deaths of thousands of innocent Israelis, Jordanians, Lebanese and assorted others, including his own not-so-innocent followers who often fell out of Arafat’s inconsistent favour.
When the Wahhabi version of the Word of God is absolute, when the radical Muslim world (now dominant and in ascendance) countenances no alternative views, no variations of subjective interpretation and mandates death for such apostasy, then the knighting last summer of Sir Salman Rushdie does indeed smack of provocativeness. But how many prizes and decorations have been given to Hugo Chávez and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad? Who in the West should honestly not be provoked by this lauding of these foul-mouthed gangsters, of an Iranian president who denies the Holocaust and demands the extermination of Israel, the only fully fledged democracy in the Middle East? Should not every Holocaust survivor and family, every Israeli, every freedom-loving individual everywhere be taking to the streets?
An Iranian group offered a $150,000 reward for the killing of Rushdie. Why is it that only Muslims are entitled to be offended, and only the Prophet Mohammad worthy of protection from all blasphemy, all criticism? Is it perhaps fear of retribution that drives our appeasement and nothing to do with the validity of the issue itself?
If a fundamentalist Israel had tens of thousands of apocalyptic Jihadists ensconced in safe houses across the Western world, if an implacable Israel controlled the pipelines and source of much of the world’s oil, perhaps we would hear outrage from Europe and the Left, from the United Nations, every time some dictator or terrorist threatened and attempted to destroy Israel or called the Jews sons of apes and pigs, good only for extermination. It seems justice nowadays comes only from the barrel of a gun, from the suicide belt of a Shahid.
The raison d’etre of the West was founded on a plurality of opinions, a profound respect for religious and cultural differences, and the right to express them – however it may bother sectors in our community. It is exactly this ability to tolerate dissent, diversity and individuality that defines our freedom as it also encourages the hate of every Jihadist, every Wahhabi fundamentalist whose sole purpose seems to be to extinguish that freedom and expunge that diversity.
Yet our commentators, politicians and media personalities are not, in this conflict, overtly concerned about our survival as a free and democratic society – they seem to rather be competing in ever more creative ways of apologizing for our horrendous Danish cartoons, our devastatingly offensive knighthoods, our politically insensitive references to the Prophet Muhammad and his many radical and faithful adherents.
As a dog supplicates to its attacker, as a prisoner gives up control to the jailor, as the kidnapped identifies with the persecutor, so we in the West are weakening the foundations of our unrivalled civilization in a futile and pathetic attempt to placate those who would infiltrate and destroy us. And it makes little difference if public plaques of the Ten Commandments or conservative speakers on campus are banned, if Shar’ia law gets practiced in pockets of our society or another 9/11 is initiated, it all has the same result, namely, our increasing subjugation as meek and overly tolerant people in the face of an uncompromising all sacrificing enemy who has both time and acolytes to expend.
Tim Rutten of the Los Angeles Times on June 23, 2007 talks of a great silence in denouncing “all this homicidal nonsense.” He states that every editorial page in the U.S. should express unequivocal support for Sir Salman Rushdie. He clarifies further Ronald Dworkin’s admonition that “the only right you don’t have in a democracy is the right not to be offended.” Yet the United Nations is motivating for laws making criticism of Islam a crime (whilst the Holocaust and Christianity can be endlessly denigrated).
In silencing our communities we are becoming accomplices in our own castration, we are consigning women worldwide into the Dark Ages of the hijab, clitoredectomy and their ultimate enslavement as vassal appendages to uncompromising Muslim men – up and until, of course, their 72 virgins happen to appear.
Rutten concludes that in the ensuing silence the “only permissible sounds are the prayers of the killers and the cries of their victims.”
My deepest respect to Rutten and my thanks for his refusal to be silenced.